The Violinist behind the Walls of Miag-ao Church

Paco Montiague with his Stradivarius


          The Church of Saint Thomas of Villanova, better known as the Miag-ao Church, is one of the highlights in the town of Miag-ao. Renowned for its artistic sculptural relief carved on its facade, Miag-ao Church was listed as one of the UNESCO World Heritage “Baroque Churches of the Philippines” in 1993. The Miag-ao Church stands proud not only as a living legacy of Miag-ao’s culture and way of life in the past but also as a place for brilliant artists to show their talents as a display of devotion to God, just like Paco Montiague, the 82 year old violinist of Miag-ao Church.

          Francisco “Paco” Monsale Montiague is a local musician born to a Miag-aonon family with a father as a teacher, a mother as a housewife and seven siblings, four boys and three girls. At an early age of seven to eight years old, he first appreciated art because of the Miag-ao Church. As he recalled his childhood, he loved to gaze and memorize the intricate bas relief carved upon the church’s front facade. The stairs towards the belfry of the church which was once decorated with ornate pots was also for him the most attractive spot in the church and made him greatly value art. 

          At the onset of his immersion to music, he first played a harmonica which was given by his brother during first grade. At grade three, he learned to play a guitar bought by his father. Later as he reached grade four, he was captivated by the music of the violin and started engaging himself in learning the instrument by self-studying. Through books and a local violin bought by his supportive father, he taught himself with an accompaniment of their piano to tune in a violin. Yet again through self-study, he began to play other instruments like clarinet, saxophone and piano accordion as he entered high school. After college, he bought a new violin with a Stradivarius label on it for just only ₱350.00 at some point in 1963-1964. Until now, this is the violin that he used to play during masses and events in Miag-ao church.

His 53-year old Stradivarius

         As he entered adulthood, he put aside for the meantime his love for music and focused on his work as a building inspector in Philippine Constabulary, currently known as the Philippine National Police (PNP). Later on, he went back on playing the violin thereafter he married his wife in Davao. With his wife accompanying him with the piano, alongside they were active choirs in the church. One time, he composed a church mass song entitled “Ginoo, Malooy Ka”. Together with his wife and two sons, they went back to Miag-ao, where they stayed permanently until the children got their own families.

Paco Montiague while playing his violin

        Since then, Paco and his wife became active choir members in Miag-ao Church. They joined the Sen Cecilia Crusade, which is back then the only choir in the church. During the old days, Christmas, pastoral and classical songs were his favorite songs to play. At present day, he still enthusiastically accompanies the choir during second mass at 7 in the morning. Aside from playing the violin in the church, he also performed in some wedding receptions. Moreover on one occasion, he composed a school hymn entitled “Marilac Alma Mater Song”.

    Besides from being a musician, Paco Montiague is also a painter and a creative carpenter. At the time when he was six to seven years old, their family went to the mountains to escape the happenings of the war in the lowlands. While in the highlands, he enjoyed himself to the beauty of the nature and soon after they went back to the lowlands, he expressed this wonders that he greatly admired through painting and carpentry. Though he was exposed to music at an early age, he was more into carpentry and painting, which ended up to be his hobbies.

          After working in the Philippine Constabulary, he found himself working in a Wood Processing Company in Davao as a supervisor in quality control. During his pastime, he collected some wood wastes and used them to produce imaginative works of art. One artistic creation of his is the “Last Supper”, inspired from Leonardo da Vinci’s painting. 

The “Last Supper” sculpture in Paco Montiague’s house

          Paco Montiague was also interested on research works. Back in the days, he was inspired by the works of Fernando Amorsolo and so he researched on producing his own oil and use them in his paintings. Additionally, he researched on wine making and discovered that the jack fruit wine was the tastiest wine he ever tasted. He also worked on his innovative projects like running an engine without the use of fuel to produce electricity. He tried various means in operating his engine, yet none of them was a success.

Paco Montiague with a genuine smile on his face while holding his Stradi

          At the end of the day, he described his talents and abilities as an inborn art. With these innovative ideas and skills, he encourages the youth to develop their innate knacks. Ultimately, if he was given a chance to live for more years, he wanted to pursue more on research.

For Personal Reference:

Francisco “Paco” Monsale Montiague

New York St., Brgy. Mat-y, Miag-ao, Iloilo

These are Paco Montiague’s artistic works found in his house:

The Tinikling
Decorative ornaments
Cultured Marbles


Mendoza, O. (2015). How beautiful Miagao captured my heart. Rappler. Retrieved 16 November 2016, from

Piccio, B. (2014). The Baroque Fortress Church of Iloilo: Miag-ao – Choose Philippines. Find. Discover. Share.. Retrieved 16 November 2016, from

Sto. Tomas de Villanueva Church of Miag-ao | Lakwatsero. (2011). Retrieved 16 November 2016, from

Miag-ao Church – Explore Iloilo. Explore Iloilo. Retrieved 16 November 2016, from

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